Jelena Kabic is a sports betting writer that focusses on responsible gambling. A psychologist by vocation, Jelena volunteered in a rehab facility, where she worked with gambling addicts. She now reviews all our content to ensure it discusses betting in a socially responsible way.
Fact Checked By:
Ana Gomes de Almeida
Before joining the team three years ago, Ana worked for five years behind the scenes for household brands like Betway and Betsson. She knows the ins and outs of casinos and sports betting sites. Having witnessed both the positive and negative aspects of the industry, she’s eager to share her expertise with fellow punters.
2 days ago
Why Sportsbooks Limit Players (And Is There a Way Around It)
Why Sportsbooks Limit Players
Sports betting is a great way to add some excitement to your favourite sports and teams! However, it’s essential to know that sportsbooks are businesses, and like any other business, they need to make a profit.
That’s the main reason why they may sometimes limit or even close accounts of certain players.
However, it’s not the only reason they do it. Legal, safe betting sites need to show a strong focus on responsible gambling.
A part of that means limiting or blocking players that are showing patterns of gambling addiction.
In this guide, we’ll explain in detail what kind of behaviours make a bettor more likely to be limited or blocked, and we’ll mention which sportsbooks tend to limit the least and the most.
Why Sportsbooks Limit Players
Sportsbooks are able to make money because, statistically, you’re very unlikely to be winning more than 55% of your bets. In fact, that would mean you’re among the top 3% of bettors in terms of profit.
Now, not only does the remaining 45% of bets you’ve placed go back to the sportsbook, but with so many bettors who are nowhere near that percentage, they’re looking at some pretty decent money year after year on top of the profit that house edge already gives them.
To put that into numbers: since legalizing its market, Ontario has acquired $886 million in gaming revenue.
Now imagine that there are a few dozen players who continually win very big amounts. Against such a huge revenue, it may seem ridiculously small, but $50,000 here and $100,000 there quickly amounts to the kind of money sportsbooks aren’t comfortable losing.
So in order to avoid losing too much money to profitable players, sportsbooks end up limiting them.
However, as we’ve mentioned at the start of this guide, simply winning big a couple of times isn’t the only “red flag” that may cause sports betting sites to limit a player.
Here’s the complete list.
Changing your betting pattern.
For example, if, after verifying your account, you start betting with larger amounts than usual or start betting with strange amounts, the sportsbook may flag you as a professional gambler and limit your account.
By “strange amounts”, we mean anything that’s not a round number.
For example, if you’re betting $13.76 on a certain game, you’ve likely calculated your chances and winnings pretty well.
Since that’s a skill not many have, this makes you more likely to be a professional gambler (thus making a lot of money from betting), and sportsbooks will be quick to limit you rather than give you the benefit of the doubt.
Time spent betting.
Another thing that makes you more likely to be a professional gambler is spending hours upon hours at the sportsbook. If you’re an average bettor, you’ll need some time to check out the games you’re interested in, compare odds, decide on the best bet to place…
But if you’re a professional gambler, you’re likely to spend hours looking for the house edge for just a few games.
Betting on niche sports and leagues too often.
Sportsbooks may also limit players who bet on random sports/leagues too consistently and often predict unlikely outcomes. This usually means you’re either a professional gambler or that you have some inside information.
Acting on certain inside information to secure a profit is an unfair practice, and sportsbooks won’t tolerate that.
Additionally, if you win against a sportsbook by taking advantage of pricing discrepancies, they may limit your account.
This is called arbitrage, and it means you’re betting on both outcomes because you’ve identified a difference in odds that is very stark.
While not illegal, it’s not welcome at sportsbooks.
Occasionally, by doing this, you’re able to make a profit regardless of the outcome. Sportsbooks don’t like that for the very simple fact that it means they’ll lose in any case.
Q&A With a Limiting Expert
We were lucky enough to get into contact with a person whose job used to be precisely this — deciding who gets limited.
For NDA reasons, they’ve chosen to remain anonymous, but they still agreed to answer several of our questions on the topic.
Q: What kind of behaviors would cause a sportsbook to limit a player’s account?
A: This is a complicated question to answer, as there are many reasons to limit an account. One very valid one is if you’re winning too consistently and showing a pattern of smart betting: lucky bets won’t get you limited, but if your betting pattern indicates you may have insider information, you’re likely to get limited – at least temporarily for further investigation.
Q: Does limiting work via automated systems that recognize certain behavior, or do people decide who should be limited?
A: It’s partly automated and partly manual. Betting sites sometimes impose different limits on players living in certain locations (due to local operating costs lowering their margins, for instance). But as for individual players being limited, this is mostly a manual process, decided by the betting site’s sports betting experts.
Q: Are there any definitive limits (i.e., if a player wagers/wins this much, they should be limited), or does it depend on each player?
A: This has nothing to do with how much you win or lose. It’s all about betting patterns – especially those the team’s analysts deem suspicious.
Q: What causes a sportsbook to block a player’s account instead of limiting it?
A: Blocks based on betting patterns are much rarer than limits and are an extreme measure. Often, blocks are only imposed if there is a strong suspicion of fraud and/or malicious intent from the player.
If the patterns detected are likely to be related to money laundering, then the experts will contact local authorities. That said, any breach of the site’s terms and conditions — like lying about your address for KYC purposes — can and will most certainly, if found, result in a ban.
Q: Why do sportsbooks do this (limiting, blocking)? Is it purely to protect their money, or does it have to do with preventing fraud and addiction?
A: I can only talk about the teams I worked with.
Anything to do with responsible gambling doesn’t result in a limit but a block. In this case, the issue is reported to a dedicated responsible gambling team that doesn’t have information about the website’s profits or losses. Note that limits are sometimes temporary. If, after an investigative phase, the pattern is found to be not indicative of malicious intent or suspicious behaviour, they’re often lifted.
This type of limit is mostly for-profit management – the website takes a risk when it accepts a player’s bet, and even if the player isn’t breaking any law, they can leverage the risk in a way that isn’t fair for the betting site.
Limits that come about after patterns related to money laundering or match-fixing are found are obviously not for profit reasons and are very likely to be escalated to the relevant authorities. Note that betting sites don’t have a choice but to comply with them and can be forced to block accounts by local operators.
How Does Limiting Work at Sportsbooks?
When a sportsbook decides to limit your account, they usually limit your betting size. This means you’ll only be able to place a certain amount of money on any given bet.
It’s also worth mentioning that these limits tend to refer to the sportsbook only and not the casino section of the website.
Now, say you’ve constantly been wagering $200 and winning thousands upon thousands of dollars. The sportsbook will likely still let you place bets, but with no more than $10 or $20.
In some cases, the sportsbook may even close your account entirely. However, this is a very rare occurrence, and as our expert confirmed, it doesn’t tend to happen simply because you’ve been making a profit.
In fact, the main reason the sportsbook may close your account completely is if you’ve abused the Terms & Conditions you’ve agreed with before opening your account.
Are There Sportsbooks That Don’t Limit Players?
All safe and licensed sportsbooks limit players to some extent.
We emphasize the “safe and legal” part because, as we’ve previously mentioned, sometimes sportsbooks limit players to prevent gambling addiction, in order to comply with the rules and regulations of the market they’re in.
However, some sportsbooks are more lenient than others. For example, certain sportsbooks may still limit very successful bettors, but limit them to a decent amount, and not merely $10 or $20.
High Limit Sportsbooks in Canada
That said, it’s still safe to bet at these sportsbooks so long as you don’t raise any red flags (more on that below).
Can You Avoid Being Limited by a Sportsbook?
While there’s no guaranteed way to avoid being limited by a sportsbook, there are a few things you can do to minimize the chances.
First and foremost, it’s important to understand that the sportsbook isn’t limiting you for personal reasons.
They do it because they see you as a threat to their bottom line, not because they have anything against you as a bettor.
As a result, it’s usually best not to raise any red flags in the first place. You can avoid those by:
- Placing bets on popular sports and leagues vs very niche ones
- Taking more regular bets instead of constantly going for highly optimized ones. You can still go for highly optimized bets occasionally, but don’t overdo it unless you want to be limited.
Finally, taking a break from winning only to come back and win huge amounts isn’t likely to help. That being said, it’s always a good idea to take a break and utilize various responsible gambling tools, as it keeps betting from being your only hobby and interest.
Other Limits Imposed By Sportsbooks
In addition to limiting betting size, sportsbooks also impose limits on deposit and withdrawal amounts. These limits serve a few different purposes.
Via comes to deposit limits, the sportsbooks encourage players to stray from depositing more than they can afford to lose.
As we’ve already mentioned, they usually do this to comply with regulations that require them to prevent addictive behaviour patterns.
As for huge withdrawals, sportsbooks impose limits on them as well, be it daily, weekly, or monthly.
For one, they need to make sure that the person withdrawing a huge amount of money (say, $50,000 at once) is the actual person behind the account and that there’s no fraud taking place.
But let’s be honest: if 100 players request $100,000 on the same day, it means the sportsbook is suddenly $10 million short. Avoiding this and ensuring they can still pay out the majority of bettors is another reason they impose withdrawal limits.
Overall, while it’s never fun to have your account limited by a sportsbook, it’s important to remember that sportsbooks are businesses first and foremost.
By understanding why sportsbooks limit players and how they do it, you can take steps to minimize your risk and enjoy your sports betting hobby responsibly.
Why do bookies restrict accounts?
Besides limiting highly profitable players, bookies may also restrict your account if they notice any strange betting patterns. They do this to prevent professional gamblers from playing, but also to protect bettors from developing a gambling addiction.
Can sportsbooks ban you for winning?
While they won’t ban you, sportsbooks can (and often will) limit your betting size if they notice you’re winning too much too often.
How do I stop bookies limiting my account?
By avoiding the most common red flags that would get you limited. Keep placing regular bets instead of highly optimized ones, bet with smaller amounts, and choose popular sports and leagues and not niche ones exclusively.
Why does bet365 limit accounts?
bet365 is notorious for limiting accounts, but it’s not because it’s the only sportsbook that does it. All safe and legal sportsbooks will do it in order to protect their profit margin, but also to ensure their bettors aren’t developing a gambling addiction.
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